MARIE AND DR. GREG WHITE HAVE BUILT THEIR LIFE OF ADVENTURE UPON A SOLID FOUNDATION ON FAITH
by JENNIFER JORDAN
Meet Marie and Dr. Greg White. They look like the average American family, juggling life with three children while opening a medical clinic. However, upon second glance, there is something more. The love and energy radiating from this couple is evident. Their enthusiasm for their family and their marriage is infectious. This positivity and their focus on God’s plan has led them to enjoy quite an adventure together in the last 20 years.
It all started in 1997, in the engineering computer lab at Texas Christian University’s Bass Building. Greg and Marie were both TCU mechanical engineering students, although Greg was a few years older. “He got my name wrong. We ran into each other again the following semester, and he bravely asked me out in front of a group of my friends. The rest is history.”
After Greg graduated with his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, he entered The University of Texas and earned a master’s degree in Construction Science in 2000. Greg worked as a mechanical contractor in Fort Worth while Marie completed her degree. Upon graduating from TCU in 2001, Marie pursued a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech. Greg continued as a mechanical contractor, doing HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work for hospital construction during the couple’s time in Atlanta. As Marie completed her master’s degree, they were both accepted into Texas A&M’s PhD program in Mechanical Engineering. However, plans soon changed.
“Greg has broken just about every bone and has had multiple major surgeries due to sports injury,” Marie comments. “Just prior to moving back to Texas, Greg injured himself playing indoor soccer. He had major knee surgery and was bitten with the medicine bug. His younger brother was in medical school at this time, and his father is also a physician. I scoffed at the idea, because we had plans to be in Texas. God thinks I’m funny, and He lets me know it.” Marie further explains, “While playing indoor volleyball, ‘Wallyball,’ Greg injured himself. The surgeon in College Station wanted to fuse his ankle, which would have given him limited mobility and a permanent limp. He decided to go for a second opinion in Dallas where the surgeon decided on a new, dissolvable pin to fix the ankle. He was as good as new. Greg made a deal with the surgeon that he could write about Greg’s success if he allowed Greg to scrub into a surgery. The deal was made, and Greg decided he really wanted to be a physician. I told him to take the prerequisites for the MCAT, and we would pray about it and see what happens.”
While Marie prayed, Greg signed up for classes at the local junior college, taking these on top of his PhD courseload. At the time, he worked as an adjunct professor for A&M, so he was able to take advanced prerequisites for free. Clearly, the medical bug had bitten Greg deeply because not only did he complete these classes quickly, but he passed the MCAT. Marie suggested that Greg try to secure interviews at medical schools. “I was still not totally sold that this was happening,” she remarks. “He was 28 and an engineer. Why would I think this was God’s plan? (We call it his quarter-life crisis.)
Well, he got interviews, and I continued praying. I believed he would get into his top choice, UTMB-Galveston.” During this time, Marie lined up interviews for herself at space companies in Clear Lake, 45 minutes north of Galveston. She began work at SpaceHab in 2004. The couple lived apart for six months during this transition. Their PhD plans fell through, but Greg did receive a master’s in Mechanical Engineering at A&M. Marie’s prayers worked. Greg was accepted at UTMB, and he entered medical school in 2005.
While Greg studied at UTMB, the couple welcomed their first daughter, Elliot (“Elli”) in 2005. Marie also enjoyed her career at SpaceHab, a company that provided space habitat equipment and services to NASA’s shuttles. “My job there was really fun. SpaceHab is like a camper, if a camper could attach to a truck via a tunnel. It had its own electrical and air supply systems, stowage lockers, and larger cargo hold. Astronauts could do experiments in it or sleep in it. It was just extra room, an extension of what the shuttle mid-deck already offered. I got to participate in some engineering design and some operational support. I went to Florida and climbed around in it and supported the checkout of its systems prior to each mission. I worked in the Payload Operations Control Center (POCC) in Mission Control for STS- 116 and 118, which were both missions to the ISS.” Marie avers, “God is so great. I was able to support Greg and Elli doing something I loved. I feel so blessed in that.”
Marie’s passion for aerospace is clear. “I always wanted to be an astronaut. I watched shuttle launches, went to Space Camp, kept my grades up, wanted to be a pilot, etc. It’s all I ever wanted to do from about age 5. I’ve been fascinated with stars, planets, galaxies, etc. my whole life. God’s great universe – incredible and humbling. As I grew, I realized I wasn’t actually going to be an astronaut. So, I did the next best thing for me and pursued a space career.”
In 2007, Marie began a new job at Lockheed Martin, designing the Orion capsule. “My work there had to do with the equipment and human necessities for the astronauts (vacuum cleaners to food warmer and water supply), and storing payloads and cargo. It was good to be a part of something new,” she remarks.
Greg graduated from medical school in 2009, and then completed a residency in Internal Medicine at UTMB in 2012. In 2011, son Gabriel (“Gabe”) was born. Greg followed his residency with a Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, at which time Marie stopped working as an engineer.
After their years in Dallas, the White family moved to Texarkana in 2015. Triple board-certified as an internist, pulmonologist, and intensivist, Greg has been working in the CHRISTUS St. Michael ICU. Marie states that Greg “claims his engineering background helps in his work now. It allows him to view processes as systems, one interacting with the other.”
In 2017, God brought another little life to the Whites, daughter Naomi (“Omi”), who is now 15 months old. As they enjoy their family of five, more adventure awaits Marie and Greg—the opening of a pulmonary clinic. Marie likes to joke with Greg, “it’s my clinic, and he’s hired.” She explains further, “it’s Pulmonary & Internal Medicine of Texarkana. As a specialist, he will see both pulmonary patients and internal medicine patients there. It’s a small shop: him, two nurse practitioners, one nurse, one respiratory therapist, one receptionist, and me – his devoted office manager.” Greg will still work in the ICU, seeing clinic patients on his days off.
In the midst of this busy period, Greg and Marie carve out downtime. The family enjoys being outside in nature, and Greg and Gabe love building Star Wars Legos. Elli loves art, piano, reading, and dancing. Omi adores her Farm Animal touch and feel book and swinging. Greg and Elli have planned an exciting summer trip to Romania with Greg’s parents. Marie explains, “Greg’s parents adopted a child from a Romanian orphanage in the early 1990s after the fall of communism there, and later began a ministry called NOROC – Big Hearted Grannies. The ministry brings elderly, unsupported women into the orphanages to hold, rock, and care for the babies. In more recent years, its mission has evolved into also supporting young people coming out of the orphanage system. Greg and Elli will visit orphanages and travel the country, including beautiful Transylvania.”
The White family has built a lovely life upon the foundation of faith in God. As Marie says, her greatest challenge is to remember “I’m not meant to do any of it alone. That applies to everything.” While Marie loved her engineering work, she doesn’t really miss it. “I sometimes miss using my mind in that way; however, Greg’s clinic has me plenty busy now. I feel so blessed and loved that God helped me to do all I ever wanted to do while also seeing His plans for Greg through. And the peace I felt in leaving it also tells me we are where God wants us to be.”